Hundreds of visitors poured into Reaseheath College in Nantwich to join in a celebration of the British apple.

The festival, held for the 19th consecutive year, was the most successful yet and attracted visitors across Cheshire and surrounding counties.

Visitors could use an apple press to convert their orchard harvest into home made juice, and sample more than 60 rare varieties of apples, pears and other fruit on show, some dating back over several hundred years.

Several unusual varieties were identified from fruit brought in by local gardeners, including the 17th century Monks Seedling and the Millers Seedling and Ladies Fingers, both dating back to the 1840s.

Horticulture experts Derek Jones (pictured) and Harry Delaney were kept busy identifying apples and advising on pruning, pollination, pest control and suitable  trees for planting. 

Harry said: “We were inundated with people wanting to know more about the fruit in their garden.

“There is no doubt interest in local produce has grown hugely over the past few years and there has been an explosion of interest in juicing apples.

“People have been delighted to take away a fruit drink to enjoy rather than leaving the fruit to rot on the ground.”

One gardener looking for advice was former Reaseheath agriculture student John Coventry, who has heritage apple trees on his two acre plot in Wigland, Malpas.

He said: “Apart from being a great interest of mine, I want to leave something of worth for my children and grandchildren and I also want to leave the land in better condition than I found it.”

Nigel Walters (pictured) identified an unusual Red Devil apple tree in his garden in Stapeley last year and successfully made cider from the fruit. He returned to repeat the process and used the apple press to make seven litres of apple juice.

He said: “I am so glad I can do something useful with the apples rather than waste them. I made some wonderful cider last year which I drank at Christmas and I’m hoping I can do the same this year.”

Another local making the most of a rare apple variety was Catherine Ebenezer, who discovered a tree in her partner’s garden in Willaston was an Ecklinville seedling dating back to 1801.

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